Passes and Breaks - Canterbury

Camilla Stoddart takes on New Zealand's South Island with professional Mountain Bikers from Canada.

Camilla Stoddart completed a trip around New Zealand's South Island in Kombi campervans alongside mountain biking professionals from Canada. Camilla has documented the trip through outstanding imagery and blog posts - check out her experiences in the Canterbury region below.

Canterbury Region - South Island 

A while back I dreamt up an idea; what would it take to get a cluster of bikers, a couple of camper vans and tour New Zealand’s South Island with the sole purpose of riding mountain bikes and catching waves. Along the way we would meet locals, find out their secret biking stashes, spin a yarn, sleep in our vans and have an epic adventure. I wanted to do this trip in VW Kombi camper vans. Simple….

After months of planning, many emails and more than a few set backs, we are on the road. With me I have the finest bikers to come out of Canada, Mike Hopkins and Casey Brown. Joining us today will be the infamous Kelly McGarry of NZ (with us a few days late due to unforeseen circumstances involving a jump and an unfortunate landing). We are traveling in two of the finest 1970′s VW Kombi Campervans in NZ thanks to Classic Campers. HUGE thanks for their support in believing in my harebrained idea! The perfect team.

On the drive North, I couldn't resist but to have a cheeky stop of and google at the marvel that is Mt Cook. It was a scorchingly hot day so it would have been rude to drive past Lake Pukaki and not go for a swim.

After spending our first night in the vans at Tekapo, we ventured North, bound for Castle Hill in the Arthurs Pass. We had high hopes of exploring the Castle Hill rocks and riding the trails amongst the Canterbury Clubfields (ski fields).  We had to make a quick stop at the stunning Rakaia Gorge for another swim to relieve our bodies from the searing NZ summers' day. The water was just heavenly.

We chugged our way North to Springfield to have a pie with my good friend Mel Parsons, and catch up on where was good to camp in Castle Hill and the best spots to check out. We were not to be disappointed after exploring the incredible sculptured glacial rocks, spat out by a glacier millions of years ago. What a place. You must check them out if you are ever driving over the Arthurs Pass.

Yesterday was the first big day of riding. We had read about the wicked trails built by dedicated Cantabrians in the Broken River / Craigyburn area and it was now our turn to explore. After a grueling 6km ride straight up the Craigyburn access road to the ski field, we were above the bush line and met by spectacular views of the wild mountains clad in native bush mixed with huge scree slopes that I unknowingly ski over every winter. With slightly wobbly legs after such a ride up we set off along one of the sweetest trails I have ever ridden.

Shooting many photos on the way down, I quickly forgot the pain of the uphill push and really enjoyed the sweeping, technical in places, and very long decent. A mixture of crossing scree slopes, bush clad roots and flowing sections; this trail delivered.

After this epic ride it was into the big smoke of Christchurch to find some surf. We headed to Sumner to have a swim in the surf and watch some locals get barrelled in the pumping waves. One of these locals being good friend Guy Nurse.

Katrina and Guy Nurse offered us a much needed shower, a driveway to camp in and great company for the night in Christchurch. It is in their living room I now sit, telling you my story of our trip so far as we wait for Kelly to then head north in our Kombi’s, Kaikoura bound.  

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